Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Wrest in Peace

Monday, March 2, 2015
Posted By: 
Diana Gumushian

I am a keeper of secrets- about myself, my marriage, and my spouse. I was married for 11 years, and have been widowed close to 7 years. The more time that passes, the more I wrestle with the truth. I am ashamed of things he did, and I hide them because I want to spare the feelings of others. I don’t want them think of him differently. All this comes at a cost to me. I lost him suddenly in his sleep, but the truth is, I began losing him long before that. I’m not sure he was truly ever “mine” to begin with. How do you reconcile yourself to losing the life you wanted, the one you worked so hard to maintain, the one you wished you’d had, when you have to admit that it quite possibly wasn’t anything you ever really possessed in the first place?

Although I want to spew out all the details, purge them, and truly unburden myself, in the era of Google searches and permanent digital footprints, I have to be mindful of what I say (in print at least). There are those, like my children, who must be ‘protected’ until they are old enough to understand, and yet I am entitled to be free of it. This is, and has been, my struggle. How do I care for myself, address what eats away at me, wears me down, holds me back, without harming those I care about? Everyone has their secrets. In some way, we are all living a facade. We let people see what we want. We manipulate the truth to make it seem like we are living something we aren’t, because often, the truth is too painful to admit or share with others. Much like we hide what it’s REALLY like being widowed to spare those who are not, I have added the additional layer of not telling the truth ‘to preserve the memory of the dead.’

I am a widowed mom of 2 boys. I am raising them alone. It sucks. But in some ways, it is easy. Easier than what it used to be. Easier than it would be if he were still here. Because truth be told, it wasn’t always easy when he was here. He was a childish, selfish, me-centered alcoholic. He was sober when I met him, and he promised he’d remain so. He had many other issues, issues I accepted when I met him, when I married him, and beyond that. He could be a good person when he wanted, but he could be equally horrible. We had short periods of time when we were happy, but overall, the difficult, unhappy times outweighed the good. I’ve come to accept he wasn’t capable of being the kind of husband I needed him to be. I’m not sure why he wanted to be married, because most of the time he preferred to be alone- working out, working in the basement, working outside, working ridiculous hours at his job, working at being busy doing something other than working on us, our marriage, our family. This is not to say that I didn’t play my own part in all of this...but he is gone, free of the burdens of what was, of what I lived through loving him, and losing him, and I am here, trying to let go, and move forward. I’m sick of hiding, of keeping secrets, of stuffing it away. It’s hard to admit when you made the wrong choices. It’s harder to forgive yourself.

I am ashamed of the things he did- the emotional, financial, even legal messes he made that I had to clean up. I still carry the shame that I felt when a stranger looked at me and wondered things about me, not because of what I did, but because I was here on his behalf, being his ‘responsible partner,’ trying to get him to be a better person, when he didn’t act in a way that deserved it. Always hoping for more, and repeatedly being disappointed. When he died, I went through all the normal range of emotions one might expect to when they lost a spouse. And then I felt things I was ashamed of. I was angry. Resentful. Furious. He got the easy way out. He died in his sleep. He left me here to clean up the mess of him being gone, like all the other messes of his that I cleaned up. In some ways, his being gone was easier, because I didn’t have to worry about the phone call or knock on the door, or what other way he might disappoint or embarrass me. And I was ashamed to think those things, yet alone verbalize them. What kind of person did that make ME?

It made me human.

Seven years later, I am still trying to reconcile that the things that he did were HIS, not mine. They all affected me, my life, my marriage. But he is gone, and I am here. I need to find a way to rid myself of the burden of things that don’t belong to me. Admitting it for someone else to know is the first step. I hope that in sharing this, I might help someone else who might be keeping a secret to preserve the image of their deceased spouse to know that you are not alone. And even if no one else reading shares this burden, in admitting it here, I hope to help to heal myself. To take one step away from the heaviness I carry. I deserve to be happy. We all do.


Dear Diana, My situation was/is quite different from yours. However there were a number of secrets my late husband kept that I quickly uncovered and was mortified to learn. Having to reveal them to others and clean them up was an added weight to the pain of his sudden death. I applaud your strength, the work you have done to get here, and the love and commitment you have for your boys. They have a great mom!!

Powerful. Thanks for sharing.

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